Family Justice Committee recommends ways to tackle rise in family violence cases

The Family and Juvenile Court Building at Havelock Square. The newly-established Family Justice Committee has put forth various recommendations to tackle the rising numbers of cases related to family violence. -- FILE PHOTO: THOMAS WHITE 
The Family and Juvenile Court Building at Havelock Square. The newly-established Family Justice Committee has put forth various recommendations to tackle the rising numbers of cases related to family violence. -- FILE PHOTO: THOMAS WHITE 

Teachers, doctors and lawyers may need to undergo training in future to better identify victims of family violence. Also, several specialist agencies that provide divorce and family-related services will be set up.

These are some of the recommendations that the newly-established Family Justice Committee has put forth to tackle the rising numbers of cases related to family violence.

The family court heard 978 such cases in 1995. By last year, the figure tripled to 3,200.

"In recent years, our families have come under increasing pressure and strain from different directions... and some of the emotional strain has found an outlet in domestic violence," said Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Law and Education Indranee Rajah on Friday. She outlined several recommendations proposed by the committee at a family violence conference, organised by Pave, the main agency that deals with family violence here.

One of the main findings from a study that was presented is that most family violence victims are abused by their spouses - making up 72 per cent and 57 per cent of new and referred cases respectively. This was based on data from 3603 cases which Pave has seen over the last 10 years.

Physical abuse tops the list for the type of abuse experienced, with more than half encountering it as the main form of violence. Abuse cases are also complex, with four in five experiencing more than one type of violence, such as psychological abuse on top of physical violence.

Victims of spouse battery come from all age groups but most are females in their 30s and 40s. A growing number of those who seek help are better educated and command higher pay. The minority ethic groups - Indians, Malays and those categorised under Others- are over represented.

The study also identified an emerging trend of harassment cases. Some victims continue to stay in abusive marriages because they fear their spouse would harm them or their children if they do not. The centre saw 46 harassment cases last year, involving mostly online and sexual harassment.